A Historical Perspective of Avian Genomics



A traditional aim of avian taxonomists and systematists was to establish a reliable phylogenetic framework, the avian tree of life. Until 50 years ago, the only way to establish systematic relationships relied on the comparison of morphological characters, which could be misleading because of convergent character evolution. The first molecular approach used the electrophoretic separation of proteins (from eggs). This was followed in the 1980s by DNA-DNA hybridisation. Both methods provided some insight but did not show sufficient resolution. Better results were obtained from nucleotide sequencing of marker genes, which started in the 1990s. A real breakthrough came with next-generation sequencing (NGS), which allowed sequencing a large portion of the avian genome. The review illustrates and briefly discusses the achievements in the past and limitations of the different methodological approaches.


Systematics Taxonomy Classification Morphology Phylogenetics Genome DNA-DNA hybridisation Sequencing Next-generation sequencing 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Heidelberg University, Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular BiotechnologyHeidelbergGermany

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